Axios Pro Exclusive Content

Exclusive: Hyfé closes $9M seed round to make money from bean water

Illustration of an open tin can with a hundred dollar bill on it

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Hyfé closed a $9 million seed round this month to convert food processing wastewater into a core ingredient for meatless protein, the company tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: Hyfé says its process produces a cheaper, more sustainable alternative to the sugars commonly used to fuel protein production.

What's happening: San Francisco-based Hyfé takes wastewater from food production plants and turns it into feedstock for fermentation.

  • Fermentation is one of the main methods for making alternative proteins. It's also used to produce fuels, materials and chemicals.

Zoom in: Hyfé plans to install its equipment at food production plants.

  • The feedstock it makes will be sold to "biomanufacturers" that brew proteins and other products through fermentation.

Meanwhile, it'll sell treated clean water back to the food companies, which it says it can do at a lower price than traditional water treatment.

What they're saying: "If you're boiling beans and you're generating water, before you toss that water down the drain, we capture it," CEO Michelle Ruiz says.

  • "In your kitchen, you can make a cocktail with it, aquafaba. At the factory, it's considered wastewater."

Details: Synthesis Capital led the all-equity round, which closed June 8.

  • The Engine, Refactor Capital, Supply Change Capital, Overwater Ventures, X Factor Ventures and Alumni Ventures participated.
  • Synthesis Capital partner Rosie Wardle is joining the board.

Of note: Ruiz previously ran a waste treatment plant for ExxonMobil.

  • Chief technology officer Andrea Schoen was an early U.S. hire for LanzaTech, which uses gas fermentation for fuels production.

What's next: Hyfé is finishing feasibility studies with food brands. It'll narrow those to three pilot projects.

Go deeper